Business stories of interest this week

Business stories from the past week, compiled by Jason Maywald:

1. Coles set to remove radio in 68 stores across country

Coles will roll out an autism-friendly shopping experience at nearly 70 stores across the country from today, following a successful trial earlier this year.

The Quiet Hour program, which reduces noise and distractions, makes shopping easier for customers who find heightened sensory environments challenging, was met with widespread praise from customers during a trial at the Ringwood and Balwyn East stores in Melbourne in August.


2. Kmart effect to thank for booming home decor industry

Good news, DIY fans — Australia’s home decor industry is experiencing a boom.

In an otherwise gloomy retail environment, the home furnishing and decor, hardware and household sectors are on the rise — and we might have the ‘Kmart effect’ to thank.

Queensland University of Technology retail expert Dr Gary Mortimer said Australia was experiencing “a lack of strong wages growth, a rise in utility bills and big household costs” and as a result, consumers were “less likely to buy new homes and were more likely to stay home and decorate and renovate”.


3. Workers lured to Australia find low pay and tough conditions

Like many young South Koreans, Gabi Cho moved to Australia for the chance to learn English, breathe its famously clean air and make some money.

Two years ago, she found a job cutting hair in the Lidcombe area of Sydney. It paid about $9 an hour. To get the job, she put down about $380, refundable if she was never late or absent from work.

At the time, she said, she did not know all of that was illegal.


4. Maccas reeals $1 billion shopping bill

EVERY year, McDonald’s buys the equivalent of 1322 AFL teams worth of beef from Australian farmers. That’s about 25.3 million kilos.

To coincide with National Agriculture Day, the fast-food chain has for the first time revealed its $1 billion annual shopping list of local produce including beef, lettuce and tomato. According to McDonald’s, more than 90 per cent of its ingredients are locally sourced.


5. David Jones dip shows department store struggles

A deep sales slump at David Jones has underlined the tough conditions in the department store sector and sparked a prediction that lower prices will be needed to lure shoppers.

A trading update released by David Jones’s South African-based owner, Woolworths Holdings, revealed sales at its Australian department stores declined 5.3 per cent in the past 20 weeks.